The King and the Sea: 21 Extremely Short Stories

tr. from German by Sally-Ann Spencer. illus. by Wolf Erlbruch. 48p. Gecko Pr. Sept. 2015. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781877579943.
K-Gr 3—In 21 very short stories told on as many spreads, a little king wearing a gold crown examines what it means to be a king, interacting with one subject in each simply titled story. In "The King and the Cloud," he urges the cloud to linger over his kingdom with its green hills and loamy soil, but the cloud moves on. He does handstands and headstands to impress a squirrel, and he loses his temper when a disobedient dog will not sit, lie, or come at his command. When he tells a bee to buzz off because he is the king, she tells him she is the queen and stings him on his nose. "What are you good for," he asks a star who disappears briefly and then lights up the night sky. When the sky gives him a blanket of snow, he gazes in wonder at the dazzling landscape and says "Thank you." The first and last stories are about the king and the sea. In the first he stands quietly listening to the woosh of the waves, and in the last he leaves his crown on the sand and leaps joyfully into the water. The economy of the stories is matched by the masterful use of white space and the placement of collage images. Together they offer a thoughtful look at the king finding his place is his little world.
VERDICT This collection of quiet, open-ended stories is a solid choice for most libraries.

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